I have to admit that I'm quite surprised by the amount of "Maggie May" mail that continues to come in ... I would NEVER had guessed we could have struck such a nerve with this one!
That being said, today's our last day of "Maggie" Headline coverage ... we'll continue to run your comments and contributions ... but only as part of our regularly scheduled comments pages.
Meanwhile, we CANNOT ignore all the interesting tidbits our readers have turned up on this topic ... so today's posting goes out with a major Thank You for all of you on the list have continued on with your own research.
The truth is, we are NEVER going to come up with a definitive answer on this ... those kinds of records simply aren't kept (and even if they ever did, they don't exist anymore.) Pop music has always been "of the moment" ... so while it's clear that disc jockeys all over the country jumped on this track and forecast its hit potential, to definitively single out any one radio station or any one disc jockey as being the first to flip the record over simply cannot be done ... especially since it now looks like a number of these stations had already been playing the track as an album cut ... and some even charting it that way.
Still ... we want to share with you the latest and greatest from our very astute readers ...
I'm sending you a couple of radio station charts that clearly show "Maggie May" at or near the top of the charts in July 1971. Keep in mind that stations could've been playing the song as an album cut. Rod's "Every Picture Tells A Story" debuted on Billboard's LP chart on June 19, 1971, which means it was actually released at least a couple weeks prior to that. I've been reading some reviews of the album from 1971 and several of them mention "Maggie May" as the stand-out cut from the album.
No matter who actually played it first, there's no denying that history has proven them right. It's always been one of my favorite Rod Stewart songs, although I agree that classic rock radio has burned it to a crisp over the years.
Well, there you have it … the actual KRLA chart with “Maggie May” at #4 on July 6th. And how about the WMEX chart … “Maggie May” at #1 and “Reason To Believe” charting separately at #2!!! And both showing as having already charted for five weeks, which now pushes this to late June.
It all seems pretty definitive to me. WLS first charted “Maggie May” on August 30th.
The only thing we CAN’T account for
is when WMMS in Cleveland first charted it … but I’m thinking that perhaps they
DIDN’T … additional research makes WMMS look like it was already an FM “underground”
station by this point … and likely wasn’t publishing Top 40 Charts … so we may
never know their airdate for sure. (A WOKY Chart would also be helpful if somebody can come up with one.)
But using Paul Haney’s information above, if the album came out in early June, stations COULD have been playing “Maggie May” as an album track, I suppose … but then I would think that this would have influenced Mercury’s decision as to which side to push. Consider this … “Maggie May” was already #4 on July 6th … but didn’t chart AT ALL in ANY of the three major trade publications until August 14th!!! That’s 5-6 weeks later!!! So while the plan may have been for “Reason To Believe” to be the hit side (it first charted nationally on July 17th … STILL two weeks after “Maggie May” was already #4 on one of the hottest radio stations in the country.) Based on THIS information, I’ve got to award the most likely station to flip the record and make “Maggie May” a hit HAD to be KRLA. As stated previously, Chuck Buell convincing KHJ to jump on a record WLS themselves wouldn’t first chart until August 30th would put KHJ six weeks behind their biggest competitor, KRLA. (kk)
>>>Additional research makes WMMS look like it was already an FM “underground” station by this point … and likely wasn’t publishing Top 40 Charts … so we may never know their airdate for sure.
Here is yet another chart showing “Maggie May” charting early. (Please note that I said in my initial email that some stations played both tracks early on.)
In Baltimore ... by then I had integrated album cuts into the station's basic Top 40 format ... I never played "Reason To Believe." We programmed "Maggie May," "Mandolin Wind," and "(I Know) I'm Losing You" with “Maggie May” in a heavier rotation than the other two, which shared airplay with album cuts by other artists.
And, according to this WBKO Chart, both sides of the hit single had already been charting for five weeks, again placing it to early July (plus any other pre-chart airplay it might have received.) kk
And ... here is the first appearance of Maggie May / Reason To Believe on a WLS survey.
BTW: Haven't found relevant surveys for WMMS or WOKY so the verdict is still out on their part in the Maggie May mystery.
Keep on rockin', Kent!
Clark Besch did some more digging of his own on this … and the timeline DEFINITELY starts much earlier than we thought. (You’ll even find Record World telling us “If you recall, we were the first to tell you that ‘Maggie May’ was the hit side as opposed to the original A-Side, ‘Reason To Believe.’” Seems like EVERYBODY had a hand in making this one a hit!!!
A little more digging gives little help. You may have seen "Maggie May" just dipping to #3 from #1 in my 1971 surveys of KLZ-FM Denver a few days ago. You can see below that they were likely one of the very early stations on Maggie May in July, 1971.
A host of stations are on the song by August 4, 1971 according to Record World
Kal Rudman's column same week, claiming many stations are playing it as an LP cut still.
[A distinct possibility as to how it could have charted this early on some stations … but proof again that it was already common knowledge in the industry that THIS was the hit side of the record. – kk]
Chicago is home of the top label in their issue dated 10-9 1971!!!
And here, Kal takes full credit AFTER he reports stations played the song??? This is from the 12-11-1971 issue of Record World.
For an interview of "to the point" questioning worthy of Kent Kotal, scroll down to page 39 on this page for a good Rod Stewart article / interview from 6-27-1986 that ran in The Gavin Report!
Good stuff in Forgotten Hits today, Kent!
“The Battle of the ‘Charts,’ ‘Music Surveys,’ ‘Hit Parades,’ etc.
There was, at times, a lag between when a song was first played on anyone’s air and when it first charted on their weekly ‘list.’ So "charting" isn't always the best barometer of initial airplay. And I was not a "believer" in advancing a song up a chart prematurely in anticipation of its "hitness."
But if I’d known how iconic “that” song would become, however, I would have saved its lifespan’s weekly Hit Parade rise and decline. I did not. So, I have nothing there, admittedly.
Anyway, I stand by my story as I "remember" it and also recall that I did not know until many years later the “estimated” number of radio stations who watched our record “adds” and added some songs to their air because we were playing it. This was an exciting and interesting time for contemporary music for me then.
And I’m always open to any clarifications to any of my stories as long as they are respectfully expressed, factually supportive and without snarky comments.
So, in closing, this little-known quote ~~~
“Chuck Buell was always my Favorite Disk Jockey!” - Maggie May - circa 1971
As someone mentioned the Rod Stewart concert at the Syndrome on your page, here is a story I wrote for the Illinois Rock & Roll Music Archives on the Coliseum / Syndrome.
As rock concerts blossomed in the late ‘60s, with a capacity of 12,000, the Coliseum (1513 S. Wabash) provided a space larger than concert venues such as the Auditorium Theater, Civic Opera House and Arie Crown Theater. Although the building was an acoustically challenged barn that was in serious need of repair in a less than ideal neighborhood on the near South Side of Chicago, it provided a perfect place for rock crowds who could have cared less about the condition or location of the facility. From 1968 - 71, the Coliseum became the major Chicago concert venue.
For those who remember the stone façade, it was originally built in the 1880s to surround a Civil War museum constructed by candy magnate Charles Gunther. The façade was a re-creation of the Confederate Libby Prison, which was brought to Chicago from Richmond, Virginia, and re-assembled brick-by-brick on the site. In the early 1900s it was the premiere indoor arena, and was actually a model for future arena designs. The venue hosted six national political conventions and was the original home for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Following the Depression Era, the revitalization of Chicago saw the Chicago Stadium open in 1929 and the International Amphitheater in 1935. The Coliseum quickly became antiquated and too small, relegated to second tier events. By World War II, the venue became a training facility for American troops.
After the war, both the Coliseum and the neighborhood it was in deteriorated in major disrepair. Still, the size of the venue continued to make it viable even if only for events such as roller derby, professional wrestling, and evangelical revival meetings.
Venues being used at the time including the Civic Opera House and Auditorium held less than 4,000, and the popularity of rock forced promoters to seek a larger venue. And the Coliseum fit the bill. The concerts were general admission with folding chairs on the main floor.
Triangle Productions was one of the main promoters at the time and brought in acts like The Doors (here’s audio of their Mary 10, 1968, performance: https://youtu.be/qYoCynZHl9E). 1968 also saw the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rascals play there; with future concerts featuring the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, et al.
One of the promoters who went into the venue was Dick Gasson of 22nd Century Productions. In 1970, he re-branded the building as The Syndrome when his plans to reopen the Kinetic Playground did not materialize. The first show was on October 16, 1970, with Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie and Chase. As the Syndrome, it only lasted six months. The last show was James Taylor and Carole King on March 12, 1971. A day later, the City of Chicago shut the building down citing health and fire code violations. Concerts then moved to the International Amphitheater.
The site is now occupied by the Soka Gakkai USA Culture Center. The commemorative Coliseum Park is located across Wabash Avenue from the original venue site.
April 27, 1968 Cream & Mothers of Invention
May 10, 1968 The Doors & One-Eyed Jacks & Shady Daze
Sept. 28, 1968 The Rascals
Oct. 13, 1968 Cream & Conqueror Worm
Nov. 3, 1968 The Doors
Dec. 1, 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience & Soft Machine
Jan. 23, 1970 Grateful Dead
May 16, 1970 B.B. King
Nov. 27, 1970 Grateful Dead
Dec. 31, 1970 The Byrds & Alice Cooper
Mar. 19, 1971 New Riders of the Purple Sage & Grateful Dead
Oct. 16, 1970 Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, The Brethren, Chase
Nov. 6, 1970 Traffic, Siegel-Schwall Band, Mott the Hoople, Conqueror Worm
Nov. 13, 1970 Small Faces with Rod Stewart, Elvin Bishop, Haystack Balboa, Soup
Nov. 20, 1970 Ten Years After, Mylon, Skid Row, Quatermass
Nov. 27, 1970 Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage
Jan. 20, 1971 Free, Siegel-Schwall Band, Hammer
Feb. 20, 1971 Mountain, Fleetwood Mac, Ned
Mar. 5, 1971 Steppenwolf, Flash
Mar. 12, 1971 James Taylor, Carole King, Jo Mama
As the Syndrome was closed effective March 13, other shows that were scheduled had included:
Mar. 19, 1971 Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage (cancelled)
Mar. 20, 1971 Black Sabbath, J. Geils Band, Dreams (cancelled)
Mar. 26, 1971 Johnny Winter, Allman Brothers (cancelled)
Apr. 2, 1971 Jethro Tull, Brethren, McKendree Spring (cancelled – moved to Opera House)
Apr. 9, 1971 James Gang, Spencer Davis & Peter Jameson (cancelled – moved to Opera House 4/10/71)
Apr. 23, 1971 Moody Blues, Trapeze (cancelled)
May 1-2, 1971 Grand Funk Railroad (cancelled – moved to International Amphitheater)
May 28 1971 Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention (cancelled – moved to Auditorium)